The counterfeiting of currency, securities, and other financial documents has been going on for centuries; however, technological advances that have occurred in recent decades have made counterfeiting easier and more lucrative. At any given time, the U.S. Treasury Department estimates that there is as much as $200 million in counterfeit U.S. currency in circulation. In response to the increased concern about counterfeit currency, securities, and financial documents, law enforcement agencies at the state, federal, and international levels have stepped up efforts to identify, arrest, and prosecute counterfeiting operations. If you have reason to believe you are the target of a counterfeiting investigation or have already been charged with a related offense, it is in your best interest to consult with a federal counterfeiting fraud defense attorney as soon as possible.
A federal investigation into alleged counterfeiting may involve the vast resources of the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and various other powerful law enforcement agencies. As the target of such an investigation, you need the experienced and resourceful legal team at Haas Law on your side. Attorney David Haas is a former federal prosecutor who uses that experience and knowledge to protect and defend clients charged with federal crimes, including counterfeiting and fraud. Contact the team today by calling 407-755-7675 or chat with us online any time of the day or night.
What Is Counterfeiting Fraud?
Counterfeiting and fraud associated with counterfeiting are predominantly governed by 18 U.S.C. §§ 470 et seq. which makes it a crime to falsely make, forge, counterfeit, or alter any obligation or other security of the United States with intent to defraud. It is also a crime if you have the intent to defraud to “pass, utter, publish, or sell, or attempt to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or bring into the United States or keep in possession or conceal any falsely made, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States.”
While most people envision counterfeit paper money when thinking of a counterfeiting operation, counterfeiting fraud applies to U.S. Treasury bonds, securities, notes, and related federal documents. In fact, § 473 makes it a crime to “buy, sell, exchange, transfer, receive, or deliver any false, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, with the intent that the same be passed, published, or used as true and genuine.”
Finally, the criminal offense of counterfeiting is not limited to making fraudulent U.S. currency. U.S. law makes it a crime to “knowingly and with intent to defraud, utter, pass, or put off, in payment or negotiation, any false, forged, or counterfeited bond, certificate, obligation, security, treasury note, bill, or promise to pay, mentioned in section 478 of this title, whether or not the same was made, altered, forged, or counterfeited within the United States.” (Emphasis added)
What Are Some Common Examples of Counterfeiting Fraud?
The days of getting a color printer and trying to duplicate a U.S. $20 bill are in the past. In the 21st century, counterfeiting fraud is much more sophisticated, as are the measures in place designed to prevent counterfeiting. Consequently, you could be charged with counterfeiting under a wide variety of circumstances, including:
- Possession of counterfeit U.S. currency.
- Possession of counterfeit foreign currency.
- Possession of counterfeit securities or bonds.
- Attempting to pass or sell counterfeit currency, securities, or other financial documents.
- Possession of plates or stones used for printing currency.
- Possession of the unique paper used to print U.S. currency.
- Downloading or possessing digital or analog files related to printing U.S. or foreign currency or financial documents.
What Are the Potential Penalties If I Am Convicted of Counterfeiting Fraud?
A conviction for counterfeiting fraud carries up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 or double the value of the financial gain involved in the crime. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 229 cases referred to the Commission involved counterfeiting bearer obligations. Of those cases, over 80 percent (81.1%) were sentenced to prison with an average term imposed of 15 months. The most common factors leading to an increased sentence were manufacturing or producing counterfeit obligations as well as possessing counterfeiting paper, altered currency paper, or a counterfeit deterrent. Playing a leadership or supervisory role in a counterfeit scheme or possessing a firearm in connection with the offense can also increase your sentence.
Are Defenses Available in a Counterfeiting Fraud Case?
When the federal government prosecutes a counterfeiting fraud case it is typically because an investigation has uncovered what the government believes to be a large-scale counterfeiting operation. Such operations tend to be complex in nature and involve numerous defendants. It can be all too easy to be swept up in a counterfeiting prosecution without having knowingly participated in any illegal activities. This is precisely why you need an experienced federal counterfeiting fraud defense attorney to protect your rights and your future. Defenses your attorney might employ include:
- No intent to defraud. The government must prove all elements of a counterfeit fraud case beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. This includes proving that you had the intent to defraud. Your attorney may focus on the government’s inability to prove the requisite intent.
- Exclusion of evidence obtained during a search. A counterfeit fraud investigation typically includes several searches and seizures. If a search was conducted illegally, your attorney may move to exclude all evidence obtained during that search, meaning the evidence cannot be used against you if your attorney is successful.
- Providing substantial assistance. When a defendant in a complex multi-defendant investigation agrees to admit guilt and provide “substantial assistance” to the authorities, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the defendant’s sentence or even agree to suspend the entire sentence.
Get Help from an Experienced Federal Counterfeit Fraud Defense Attorney
If you are facing counterfeit fraud charges or believe you are being targeted as part of a federal counterfeit investigation, now is the time to protect yourself and your rights. Let an experienced federal counterfeit fraud defense attorney at Haas Law help. We have the experience and resources required to successfully investigate, advocate, and litigate federal counterfeit fraud cases.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.